Thursday, July 19, 2012

Musselman 70.3 Race Report

Here's the actual Musselman race report. Not than anyone cares but here's all the stuff from the day before: Pre-Race Race Report

After a not so great night of sleep, race morning came much earlier than I was planning – 3:30 am to be exact. I used a plastic spoon to make myself a bagel with banana and peanut butter (despite 2 trips to Wegmans the day before I never picked up a plastic knife) and chugged the cup of coffee I had bought the day before. I had been planning on leaving the dorm around 5, but after hearing all the other triathletes up and moving around (and leaving) I got nervous that I would have to wait in a long line to get into the park. So I left around 4:50, and was pulling into my parking spot just 7 minutes later. I just chilled in the car for a little while and listened to some music. 

Once I got to the park, I was remarkably calm. I knew I was better prepared for this day than for anything else I have ever done in my life. I set my transition area up quickly and waited to find out if the swim would be wetsuit legal or not. Soon enough the announcement was made…with the water temperature at 78.8 degrees, the race would not be wetsuit legal if you wanted a chance to place in your age group. This was an easy one for me. I did not want to overheat and I felt pretty confident in my swimming ability. I had decided the day before that if they were allowed I would wear it and if not then I wouldn’t. Made everything much simpler and I didn’t have to stress over the decision. So I left my wetsuit in transition and headed towards the beach to check out the bath water.  

As I was leaving transition I ran into Coach Kelly and got a few last minute race tips/words of advice and encouragement. She told me she thought I would catch her at some point during the race (her swim wave started 10 minutes in front of mine) and agreed with my decision not to wear the wetsuit. I left her feeling incredibly confident. I knew I could do this, and now I had an awesome, not time-based goal: “go catch Kelly!” 
 Kirstan made me the best sign!
Before I knew it my wave of light blue caps was being counted into the water and it was go time!

Swim – 39:08
The water looked deceivingly calm and it was incredibly shallow where we waited for the race director to yell, “go!.” I had watched the people from the waves in front of me tried to wade out further, but I knew that would be way slower than swimming and use more energy, too. A quick countdown from 10 and we were off. This was the calmest I have ever been before a race start, and it paid off. I dove in a started swimming, and was at the front of my wave almost all the way out to the first buoy. Once we got out into the deeper water, it got really rough, really fast. I swallowed about a gallon of water and I could feel my body riding the waves up and down. I did a couple of breast strokes and caught my breath, then put my head down and started swimming. I knew I just had to get out to the turn and then the waves at least wouldn’t be crashing over my head. I lost some time catching my breath but once I got moving again I found another girl from my wave and tried to stay on her feet as much as possible. We traded spots and got tangled a few times, but for the most part finished the rest of the swim one behind the other. Thanks to my lovely new goggles I never had a problem sighting. The swim finished in a river/canal so there was a lovely current the last 1/3 of the swim the helped push you in. I am definitely capable of swimming faster than this, but given the conditions and that I did it without a wetsuit, I am very happy with this.

T1 – 1:37
This sounds a little speedier than it was since the timing mats were in transition, not near the water exit, but it was pretty quick (especially since I didn’t have to take my wetsuit off). Helmet, sunglasses and shoes on, Go!
Bike – 2:54:09
Sweet! I really wanted to finish the bike in less than 3 hours, so I am thrilled with this. Considering the conditions, I am ecstatic! It started off innocently enough. Kelly had told me to take the first 14 miles easy and ride by feel since it was a mix of false flat and uphill. I felt great and was looking for people in my age group to pick off. My mantra through this part was, “go catch Kelly!” After passing/being passed by the same 2 people repeatedly, we all made friends. Thanks for the encouragement in my first 70.3 Mike and Sara! Sara gave me some great advice and was keeping me updated on our average pace and finishing time. We were on pace to do 2:52 so I was psyched. Looking back I know I may have pushed too hard in the beginning, but I’m glad I had made up some extra time. Right about the time I turned onto the lovely new (fast!) pavement on 414, it started to sprinkle. Pretty soon it was a full on monsoon, complete with cloud-to-ground lightening and the most terrifyingly loud thunder I have ever heard. And we were riding through a corn field. I was praying out loud when I guy rode by and asked who believed in G-d. The answer was an emphatic YES! from everyone around me. I spent a couple of minutes being terrified and wondering if they would pull us off the course. Logic said that would be impossible (there were 1,000 of us spread of 56 miles), so I put my head down and kept riding. At this point it was raining so hard there was an inch of water on the road and my glasses were catching water and making me feel like I might lose a contact. Then I hit the big downhill with the sharp right turn at the end. I was terrified of taking this too fast and either wiping out or ending up in Cayuga Lake, so I sat up and squeezed the brakes as if my life depended on it. Shortly after that the rain lightened up and the thunderstorm ended, but at this point I was really starting to feel that early hard effort. I was ready to break up with my bike seat, but I knew the end was coming. Soon enough I was out of my shoes (a little early, but that’s typical for me), and hopping off the bike to lots of cheers from my amazing training partners who came and cheered for us despite the storm. Love them!

T2 – 1:30
Nothing special, flew to my bike spot, racked the bike, took a second to adjust my socks so they weren’t bunching, slipped on my sneakers, grabbed my race belt, looked up and who did I see running past me? Kelly! I don’t think I have ever been so excited to see anyone, ever. I don’t remember what she said, but whatever it was as we ran out of transition together it was just the boost I needed.

Run – 2:02:09
My transition spot said, “Be Tracey’s hero today,” and it was only appropriate that I got a good look at it while I was re-racking my bike. She is the one who got me into running, and one of her favorite sayings is, “mind over body.” I was in completely uncharted territory at this point – facing a 13.1 mile run, after swimming 1.2 miles without a wetsuit and biking 56 miles about 15 minutes faster than I had ever done it before. However, I never had any doubt that I would finish. Just a curiosity about how my body would handle the next 2ish hours. The run wasn’t exactly anything to write home about, it was steady, evenly paced and went exactly according to plan. First mile was a little fast (8:11), I accidently ran up the hill through the backyard instead of the stairs, took full advantage of the water stops–ice cold sponges? Amazing. The people who live along this course are the best. They were out there cheering, and the kids were armed with hoses, ready to spray anyone who asked. I had literally been wet the entire race, so I took full advantage. My parents had brought their bikes and rode up to me right around the halfway point, which was amazing and gave me another much needed boost. 

 Once I crested the gravel hill I got to run a little ways with Alex before he needed to stop and stretch. Before I knew it I was back on the lakefront path heading into the State Park. Mark was standing near the 13 mile marker and just like at Green Lakes he knew just what to say to get me to pick it up a little. He told me to “catch them all” and I did my best. Sprinting the last straightway to the finish I had the biggest, goofiest smile on my face. Annie, Steve, Emily and Kirstan (and Kirstan’s family) on one side, the T2 team in the tent on the other side, and even my teammate Maria’s friends I had only met the day before were all cheering me in. It was the greatest feeling. I got my finisher’s medal (a recycled bike cassette), water bottle and a piece of watermelon and headed straight for the ice bath. 

Total Time: 5:38:35 - 22 minutes faster than planned and eked out a Nationals qualifying time!

It’s been almost a week and I still can’t shake the smile off my face whenever I think about the race. Musselman was my first 70.3 and it will not be my last. I made some amazing friends in the process, so I always had someone to train with, push me, or hold me back when I needed to rest. I also can’t say enough good things about Kelly and her training plan for me. It was SPOT ON and worth every penny. My nutrition (Powerbar all the way!) worked like a charm (I was eating immediately after the race, and I’ve never been able to do that), I felt amazing through the whole race and was really able to enjoy the whole experience. When I first decided to hire her, I told her I knew I could complete the distance, but I didn’t want to stress myself out about it. She took every iota of stress of my shoulders and got me to the start line, stronger, fitter, happier and more relaxed and ready for a race than I have ever been. Being a part of T2 and wearing the blue and yellow was another huge plus. It was like having a family out on the race course. 

Me with coach Kelly post race :)
I loved every minute of this race and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The volunteers who stood in the monsoon to keep us safe and on course, the run aid stations that were so easy to navigate (and the adorable little girl who made a point to hand me a pink sponge, instead of the blue one she had in her hand) and the race director who thought of everything. Thank you! I never even saw the inside of a porta-potty (win!).


  1. Congrats on your race! What Nationals are you referring to?

    1. USAT Long Course Nationals. Qualifying is age graded, like the Boston Marathon.